Archive for September 2009

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 24

September 30, 2009

Self Purging from the Great House

If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (II Timothy 2:21).

Now, what was Timothy’s attitude to be toward this “great house?” Was he to go in (infiltrate) and try to turn things around? After all, there were some vessels “to honor” inside. Was he to try to “revive” it? Was he to try to get it on the right track? Was he to go in and try to minister to individuals?

No!

What was Paul’s instruction?

If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (II Timothy 2:21).

We who name the name of Christ are to depart from religious iniquity, and we are not only to purge ourselves from the vessels of “dishonor,” but to purge ourselves from all religious participation in the “great house.”

Purge Out, and Purge Yourself

The word translated “purge”[1] is only found here and in I Corinthians 5:7. What an interesting contrast these two verses provide us! In I Corinthians, Paul instructs the saints to “Purge out therefore …” – a purging of one from among them; while Timothy is told to purge himself from the “great house.”

Andre Sneidar writes,

It strikes me that much of preaching and teaching in the realm of the religious establishment focuses on activity that is meant to change the society in which we live, i.e., that we as Christian individuals would have a “positive impact” in the social, political and financial systems which govern our society.

The fault of this kind of mentality assumes that we are part of those “systems” which govern the society in which we find ourselves. This, however, is contrary to the teaching of our apostle, Paul. As we have learned, Paul’s final words, as recorded to an individual (and thus, not to “the church” at large) were, “Flee …” (II Timothy 2:20). The implication is that for those faithful (“them that are His” – :19) who desire to be effectively used of God for His plan and purpose (“vessel unto honor … meet for the Master’s use” – :21), they must be separated and freed (“purge himself” – :21) from the base and lowly elements (“vessels … of wood and of earth” – :20) which not only detract from, but indeed hinder the Master’s work (“righteousness, faith, charity, peace” – :22), and in fact stand opposed to Him (“oppose themselves”[2] – :25).

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


[1] Strong’s Greek #1571.

[2]Strong’s Greek Lexicon #G475: antidiatithemai – From G473 and G1303; to set oneself opposite, that is, be disputatious.
Thayer: to place one’s self in opposition, to oppose, to dispose in turn, to take in hand in turn, to retaliate

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The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 23

September 29, 2009

The Mystery of Iniquity vs. The Mystery of Godliness

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor (II Timothy 2:20).

This “great house” (:20) with it’s “iniquity” (:19) was a part of the “mystery of iniquity” (II Thessalonians 2:7) that Satan has used to stand in contrast with, and opposition to the one true church (ecclesia), which is “the mystery of godliness” (I Timothy 3:16).

The Mixed Multitude

This “great house” has a mixture of vessels in it: some to “honor,” some to “dishonor,” like the “mixed multitude” of Israel. This is the old Babylonian religious system. It is the habitation of devils, every foul spirit, and every unclean and hateful bird!

… Babylon … the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities … How much she has glorified herself, and lived deliciously …” (Revelation 18:2-5, 7).

Note a few things from this passage in Revelation:

First, this Babylonian system is referred to as “her” and “she.” Interestingly enough, the “church” of this religious system (Christendom) is also referred to as “her” and “she.” In stark contrast, God’s ecclesia is the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15). Listen as members of Christendom say, “the church, she is …”

Second, there is a clear relationship between the Babylonian religious system and the nations of the world. They are in bed together (“fornication”) for mutual financial advantage, along with the merchants of the world! It is a religious-political-social-economic system.

Are you a part of a religious entity that has a relationship (fornication) with human government? A “501 c3” “Church, Inc.” with “non-profit” “tax-deductable” (subsidized) exemptions?

Third, we note that there is the divine call to, “Come out of her, my people.”

Why are God’s people in her? Advantage, prestige, honor, recognition, reputation and respectability.

Yet God calls His people out!

Listen to Paul, our apostle, give the same warning to the Corinthians:

Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, “I will dwell in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

“Out” of what is Paul calling believers?

What is the “unclean thing” that believers are not to “touch?”

What is the “filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit” from which believers are to “cleanse” themselves?

It is the Gentile Babylonian religious system!

Is “your church” or “your ministry” a part of this system? Why not leave it and come out?

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 22

September 28, 2009

The House of God and the Great House

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor (II Timothy 2:20).

Now we get to the heart of the situation in Asia. In the first epistle to Timothy, Paul talks about “the house of God,” identifying it as “the church [ecclesia] of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). That is simple enough! The “house of God” is “the church of the living God,” “which is His Body” (Ephesians 1:22-23). The “house of God” is the saints! It is not a building, not an organization, and it is not the so-called “local church.”[1]

When we get to this second epistle to Timothy, Paul now talks about a contrasting “great house” (II Timothy 2:20). When “the house of God” turned from Paul, it turned to “a great house!” This “great house” was not “the house of God.” It was “Christendom” – the natural enemy of the true church.

Note that :20 starts with “But”“But in a great house …” Therefore, this “great house” stands in contrast to “the foundation” of :19 – which is Christ. This “great house” has nothing to do with Him, but stands in contrast and contradiction to Him. It’s built upon another foundation – other than Christ.

The word “great” here in :20 is not the word for “wonderful,” as when we might say, “that was a great dinner!” Instead it is the word meaning “big” (Strong’s Greek Lexicon #3173), and is also translated “large.” We are not dealing with what sort (i.e., kind) of structure it was, but with its size. “Sort” (I Corinthians 3:13) is what is at issue in the building of God’s house, the temple; but here is man’s house, his substitute for the real church, where the emphasis is not on God’s issue of “sort,” but on man’s issue of size. When it comes to religion – size matters.

So we might call this “great house” the “big house.” Interestingly enough, “big house” is what we call a prison! That is exactly what this house is. It is religious bondage!

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


[1] This so-called “local church” is not to be confused with the ecclesia in a locality!

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 21

September 27, 2009

Depart from Religious Iniquity

… And, let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2:19).

Now a sobering instruction comes from Paul. What is the “iniquity” that Paul is talking about? Is it just iniquity in general? Or, does the context lead us to a certain type of iniquity?

We will see that the next verse will provide for us the context from which to answer this important question. Paul’s answer is that we who name the name of Christ should depart from religious iniquity!

Paul must have had in mind the parallel passage of Numbers 16:5, 26, when he wrote of the believer’s departing from iniquity! Take a moment to read it.

And he [Moses] spoke unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, “Even tomorrow the LORD will show who are His, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto Him: even him whom He has chosen will He cause to come near unto Him …” And he [Moses] spoke unto the congregation, saying, “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins (Numbers 16:5, 26).

Korah opposed the authority of Moses, and with his persuasive “gainsayings” (Jude 1:11) established a competing “tabernacle” in the wilderness.

Moses, as you know, was God’s divinely appointed messenger to Israel. Korah established an imitation of the real thing, even to the point of delusion. So it is with Christendom: it withstands Paul, God’s divinely appointed messenger for the Body of Christ. It too is an imitation of the real thing. The real thing is the ecclesia, the Body of Christ; yet Christendom presents its own versions of “church” to the point of delusion.

While it is “social” and “moral” “iniquity” with which religion is so obsessed and will try to avoid, the believer has been called to depart from the religious iniquity. Jesus was “a friend of publicans and sinners,” and it was religious leaders that he called a “generation of vipers.”

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 20

September 25, 2009

The Sure Foundation

Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, “The Lord knows them who are His …” (2:19).

Things were so bad in the religious system that had been developed in the wake of the abandonment of Paul’s message that all that was left of the “house of God” (from I Timothy 3:15) was the foundation. All else had been destroyed. The “evil day” for which Paul had warned them to prepare had come (Ephesians 6:13).

This is, nonetheless, wonderful news; for, in spite of the wholesale apostasy in Asia, Paul encourages Timothy that God’s firm foundation stands solid.

Paul had told the Corinthian saints,

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11).

So, the foundation that remained in Asia was Christ! He was all that was left! Yet that was encouragement because, ultimately, He was all that Timothy needed.

And you are complete in Him … (Colossians 2:10).

Paul himself is the one who laid the foundation of Christ.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation [Paul gives the Corinthians a warning with this truth] and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon” (I Corinthians 3:10).

Paul had laid the foundation in Asia, which was Christ, and He remained – but that is all that remained. “The day” had arrived in Asia, and “every man’s work” was “made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Corinthians 3:13). The building in Asia had been destroyed; but Christ the foundation remained, and He still remains sure and unmovable!

Things were so bad in the abandonment of Paul’s message, that it was also hard to tell who was a saint and who was not. They had joined themselves to Rome’s respected religious system. They were now a part of a mixed multitude. Paul then reminds Timothy that the Lord knows all about it, and that He knows who belongs to Him.

Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, “The Lord knows them who are His …” (2:19).

In days of apostasy only the Lord can sort out the mess. The system isn’t His, but praise the Lord, we find rest in this wonderful truth, “the Lord knows them who are His.”

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 19

September 25, 2009

Study to Show Yourself

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

Once again we are reminded of the personal and individual nature of this epistle. “Study to show yourself approved unto God …” Timothy was to study for himself! He was to teach the faithful men to study for themselves! The result would be that he would not be “ashamed.” This is the “how” to Paul’s instruction to him in chapter one (“Be not therefore ashamed …” “… I am not ashamed …”). The method of his Bible study would be “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Once again the importance of Paul’s distinct written revelation to the Body of Christ is stressed.

C.R. Stam shares these words,

In a very real sense those who serve God should be craftsmen. And how does one become a spiritual craftsman [i.e., “workman”] skilled in his understanding and teaching of the Word of God? This is by no means just a gift. It takes “study.” The word in the Greek means to “agonize,” to apply oneself wholly to getting a thing done well, hence to diligently study the Word.[1]

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


[1] C.R. Stam, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 151, Berean Bible Society.

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 18

September 23, 2009

As an Evil Doer

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound (II Timothy 2:8-9).

It was Paul’s distinct “my gospel” (:8) that got him into his Roman troubles. Note: “my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble”

At the time of his writing, Paul was imprisoned under the great persecution of Nero. Only “approved” religions were accepted and allowed to practice legally under Roman authority. Christianity at first was allowed under the assumed auspices of Judaism, but as the two were shown to be distinct and separate by Paul’s teaching, his message and ministry became illegal. So, it was the very message of Paul that got him into his troubles. Now Paul, even with his privileged Roman citizenship, was in bonds, suffering, and awaiting death as “an evil doer” (:9). Therefore, suffering and endurance are seen as the characteristics of those who follow Paul’s “my gospel” – even to this day.

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press


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